Plan to improve voter turnout through statewide distribution of vote-by-mail ballots passes first policy review

Sen. Bob Hertzberg pushes bill to boost civic participation

April 21, 2015

SACRAMENTO – As part of an effort to improve turnout, voters for all statewide primary, special and general elections would receive vote-by-mail ballots under a Sen. Bob Hertzberg bill that today passed its first policy test.

“If we can do something to help reverse declining participation in the most basic of civic duties – voting – then that is our job as state policymakers,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said after members of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments approved Senate Bill 163 on a 4-1 vote. “It is simply good government to ensure every registered voter statewide has an easy choice between either voting by mail or voting at their neighborhood polling place.”
Hertzberg said election results show an alarming trend with fewer and fewer people voting, and cited many reasons for voting-rate disparities, including poverty, frequent changes in residence and lower permanent absentee-voter rates in some areas, particularly in Los Angeles.  

SB 163 seeks to reverse that trend by ensuring every registered voter statewide receives a vote-by-mail-, or “absentee,” ballot prior to an established election. Voters would still have the option of voting in person at their designated polling location.

Supporters of SB 163 include California Professional Firefighters; SEIU California; the California Conference of the NAACP; Sierra Club California; and the Stonewall Democratic Club.

“For many working Californians, carving time out of a busy work schedule to vote can be a challenge,” Hertzberg said. “Californians should not have to sacrifice their right to vote because they work or have to commute or need to take care of their children and can’t make it to their polling place. Having that mail-in ballot at the ready can only improve our embarrassingly low voter-turnout rates.”

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 163, visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California.

More HERE or a

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell or



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